How Many Lawyers in Family & Children Law?
All data here relate to England & Wales
(1) Solicitors and Chartered Legal Executives
Recognition as a Solicitor or Chartered Legal Executive who specialises in family law is addressed through an accreditation system within The Law Society.
The area is covered by two distinct specialisms: Family Law Accreditation and Children Law Accreditation.
At 1st August 2016 the names of the accredited members are listed here for Family Law Accreditations and here for Children Law Accreditations. These lists include the name, address, telephone number and web site of the corresponding legal firm.
The Family Law Accreditation list is 27 pages with typically 42 names per page, hence about 1,130 solicitors / chartered legal executives.
The Children Law Accreditation list is 123 pages with typically 17 names per page, hence about 2,090 solicitors / chartered legal executives.
Because the lists are in pdf form it is problematical to discover how many people may appear on both lists. A random check of about a dozen names did not reveal a duplicate, so I conclude there is not a huge overlap between the two lists. This suggests that there are approaching 3,220 solicitors / chartered legal executives who are specialists in family or children law.
BUT practitioners who are not accredited members are free to undertake family law work, but without being identified as specialists. Moreover, to be eligible for accreditation as a specialist, a lawyer must have completed at least 1350 chargeable hours of law work, so there will always be a number of lawyers ‘in the pipeline’ working towards accreditation. Consequently, for both these reasons, there will be more than 3,220 solicitors / legal execs who have done work in family/children law but not necessarily accredited specialists.
On the basis of a random sample of four pages per list, the Family Law Specialists are 61% women, and the Children Law Specialists 70% women.
(2) Barristers and Judges
It proved harder to find definitive data on family law barristers. The web site for the Family Law Bar Association (FLBA) requires one to be a member in order to access member data. However, I spotted a Noticeboard message on the site, albeit dated from January 2013, which began…
Membership: Dear all, as I write, some 750 of you have done what you need to enable us to re-sign you as members of the FLBA – so my thanks to all of you. However, there still remain about 1,750 of you on our mailing list that have not re-signed. We expected, and intended, by this process of re-registration, to update the membership list to exclude those who have retired, or left the profession for other reasons, or who simply decided for other reasons that they no longer wished to be a member. However, if it is the case that those categories really cover so many of you we will be both surprised and very disappointed. Many have simply allowed their standing order mandates to continue, so that we have received £50 from you, and from that we assume that you do wish to remain members of the association.
I conclude that membership of FLBA stood at about 2,500 family law barristers or judges in January 2013, and that virtually all these people were practising. It is not clear that a barrister need be a member of FLBA in order to practise family law, however, so this figure is probably an under-estimate.
Hence my best estimate of the total number of lawyers of all stripes specialising in family and children law is about 5,700. The total number practicing family law will exceed this figure.
That this figure is indeed an underestimate of the total number of lawyers in family & children law is consistent with an indication from “resolution.org.uk“, which advises…
Join Resolution: If you are involved in the practice of family law in England and Wales, join 6,500 other family law practitioners…
However, membership of “Resolution” is not confined to solicitors, chartered legal executives, barristers and judges, but affiliate membership is also open to law lecturers, mediators, expert witnesses, family therapists, financial advisers and Guardians ad litem. Curiously, barristers and judges may join only as affiliate members.
I have no information on the gender breakdown of those in the family bar. However, across all areas of law the gender split of those “called to the bar” each year is close to 50/50. Similarly, and perhaps surprising to some, newly appointed judges in 2014/15 were 43% women (in 2012/13 50% were women). Nevertheless, in 2015 across the bar as a whole, only 36% were women (out of 15,899 barristers/judges). This is because senior barristers are dominated by men (87% of the 1,608 QCs are men). This will, one presumes, be for the usual reasons (plus the tendency for female barristers to marry other high-earning barristers, thus having the option to stop working when childcare becomes an issue).
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